Gilbert White's House & Garden

The Wakes, High Street, Selborne, Hampshire GU34 3JH
2 B3006 Selborne England GU34 3JU GB

Discover the stories of three great explorers of the natural world under one roof. These include the pioneering 18th century naturalist, Gilbert White; Captain Lawrence Oates of the final Scott Antarctic expedition of 1911-1912 and Victorian explorer of North and Central America and Africa, Frank Oates.

The Reverend Gilbert White (1720-1793), author of the world famous Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, was known as ‘The man who started us all birdwatching’. A keen observer and recorder of the flora and fauna he saw around him, Gilbert believed in studying living birds and other creatures in their natural habitats. This was an unusual approach at a time when most naturalists preferred to carry out detailed examinations of dead specimens in their study.

The Wakes is now a museum where you can find out about his life; see where he slept with the beautiful bed hangings painstakingly embroidered by his aunts and explore his 30 acres of gardens and parkland. Great care has been taken to reintroduce both plants and features described by Gilbert White including the luxuriant borders of the ‘Six Quarters’, the kitchen garden and ha-ha.

Captain Lawrence Oates
Interactive galleries also tell the moving story of Captain Lawrence Oates (1880 – 1912) who undertook the epic journey of discovery to the South Pole in 1911-12 with Captain Scott. The galleries were redesigned in 2012 to mark the centenary of both the tragic expedition and death of Captain Oates.

Scott selected Oates as one of the five-man party who would make the final dash to the Pole. On the return journey in January 1912 the party faced impossible conditions; Oates became a physical burden on the others and, recognising the need to sacrifice himself in order to give the others a chance of survival, he left the tent to die in the snow on his 32nd birthday. Scott recorded Oates famous last words in his diary, “I’m just going outside and may be some time”.
The Antarctic galleries are also home to a collection of penguins, which should soon be completed with the arrival of an Emperor. The magnificent penguin died of natural causes and was found by scientists of the British Antarctic Survey who arranged preservation and transportation to Selborne.

Frank Oates
The museum also celebrates Frank Oates (1840 – 1875), 19th century explorer of Africa and the Americas. In 1873 he commenced an extended journey to Africa and was one of the first Europeans to see the Victoria Falls. During this expedition he saw and amassed a large collection of bird and animal specimens, many of which were saved after his death. Some are now incorporated in the collections at the museum.

Frank Oates’ brother William was Lawrence Oates father.

Opening Times: Open throughout the year but days and times vary; please call or check their website for opening hours.

Photo Credits: © Copyright Gilbert White’s House Museum

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